Date of Award

August 2019

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Music



First Advisor

Sheila J Feay-Shaw

Second Advisor

Scott Emmons


Children's Literature, Elementary Music, Genres of books, John Stewig, Music Skills, Reading Skills


Elementary music teachers are using children’s literature in their music lessons to reinforce music skills and concepts as well as introduce students to biographical and historical information as it relates to music. Using children’s literature in the music classroom is aurally and visually pleasing and with the use of culturally relevant and diverse materials, it can allow students to have a sense of belonging in the classroom. Students are highly engaged in the music lesson through response and participation in the reading of the story. Using children’s literature in the music classroom can also reinforce reading skills, specifically the five building blocks of reading.

The purpose of this study was to explore how children’s literature used in the elementary general music classroom reinforces both music skills and pre-reading/reading skills. A survey was emailed to elementary music teachers who were members of the San Juan Music Educators’ Association in Washington State and 50 responses were collected. Survey participants represented a diverse range of teaching experience. The survey was designed to answer the following questions: What grades do teachers use children’s literature in, what genres of children’s literature do teachers use in their lessons, why do teachers use children’s literature intheir lessons, and what makes a book appropriate for use in the elementary general music classroom?

Three elementary music teachers were selected from respondents for teaching observation of a music lesson that incorporated children’s literature. They were also interviewed with the attempt to see how teachers in practice used children’s literature, as well as to gain an

understanding about their intentions of reinforcing music skills and reading skills in their lessons. Three reading specialists also participated in this study through questionnaires or interviews, to gain a better understanding about how teachers use children’s literature to support pre-reading and reading skills, to understand the history of children’s literature and its use in the elementary school, and to better understand how various genres of children’s literature could be used in a music classroom.

Results of the study revealed that children’s literature is being used in a variety of engaging ways including sound stories, vocal exploration, movement exploration, instrument exploration, structure for composition and as an introduction to musical terms, musicians or composers. Some teachers purposefully focus on reinforcing both reading and music skills during lessons that integrate children’s literature, while others focus on reinforcing music concepts or skills. Regardless of their intentions of reinforcement, both reading skills and music skills are reinforced with the use of children’s literature in the elementary music classroom. Through investigation of the literature, questionnaires and interviews, characteristics that make a book appropriate for use in the music classroom were revealed. From the survey results, a list of quality books for the music classroom was created that lists specific ways to use them in the music classroom.